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Why Ryzen Threadripper has two extra chips

Gordon Mah Ung | July 31, 2017
Did AMD burn two 8-core dies to make its Ryzen Threadripper? Here's the answer.

ryzen threadripper cpu
Credit: Gordon Mah Ung

When famed overclocker der8baurer “delidded” AMD’s highly anticipated Ryzen Threadripper in a video posted on Thursday, he got a surprise and spawned a mystery: Did AMD really waste two perfectly good 8-core chips to build Threadripper?

The  mystery kicked off when der8auer, cracked open his Threadripper and found what appeared to be four 8-core dies used to make the 16-core CPU. Adding to that mystery, der8bauer said AMD confirmed that only two of the “dies” were active.

der8auer delid 1 
Two of the 8-core “dies” on the 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950x are just dummies to keep the heat spreader from bending out of shape. Credit: der8auer

So did AMD really waste two perfectly good “Zeppelin” dies? Nope.

Those other two “chips” are nothing more than spacers to help maintain the structural integrity of the gigantic heat spreader, PCWorld has learned from a source who declined to be identified.

The source didn’t detail much more, but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the size of the CPU and its construction. Rather than a single monolithic die, like Intel uses on its Core i9, AMD builds its Ryzen and Ryzen Threadripper CPUs using multiple chips connected with a high-speed fabric.

If AMD had populated a Threadripper CPU with just two of the dies, the metal heat spreader would likely bend where the empty spots are.

So no, your fantasy of somehow magically turning a 16-core Ryzen Threadripper 1950X into a 32-core won’t happen.

ryzen threadripper socket with skylake x 
The plastic plate is approximately the size of Intel’s new Core i9 chip. Credit: IDG/Gordon Mah Ung

 

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